Making Your Own Wood Veneer
A thin slice of wood that is produced to expose its grain patterns is known as wood veneer. It is produced commercially to provide a flat panel used for doors, cabinet panels, bar tops and flooring. The most common use of wood veneer is in plywood, which consists of several sheets of thin cut wood that are glued together.
Making wood veneer is an ancient art that dates back centuries. An average do-it-yourself will not have the skills to produce large commercial-scale pieces of wood veneer. However, to produce a small patch piece for woodworking or on a small scale, learning to make veneer may be a useful skill.
This how-to provides some basic steps in the process for making your own wood veneer. A woodworking studio can provide you with any additional information or assistance when starting out with this type of a project.
Step 1: Cut the Wood to Size
Select a log sample that has a lot of grain patterns in it. Use a saw to cut the wood into rounds. This will make it easier to use when placing it on the rotary cutter to shave the veneer strips. The bark edges should be peeled away from the log, exposing only wood.
Step 2: Set the Rotary Cutter
The rotary cutter is a tool that has an extremely sharp blade that is used for making thin cuts. Wood veneer has a thickness that is 1/8-inch or less. Making cuts this thin requires precision, patience and an attention to detail.
The rotary blade and the machine guides should be adjusted to make a 1/8-inch cut. Consult the owner’s manual for the machine that you are using to determine how best to make the blade adjustment. Always work with a guide in order to prevent injury or contact with the blade while performing the cutting.
Step 3: Place the Wood in the Rotary Cutter
Carefully feed the wood through the rotary cutter to produce the veneer pieces. The pieces of veneer are called flitches. As the pieces are produced, layer them between pieces of corrugated cardboard. This will prevent them from rolling up, making the pieces easier to work with.
Continue this process until you have worked your way as far into the wood as you safely can. Discard the remaining piece of wood.
Step 4: Straighten the Flitches
The fitches, which are the veneer pieces that were cut from the rotary cutter, may curl up depending on how thin they were cut. If this occurs, use a steam iron set on low to gently straighten the pieces out. You can also spray the flitches with water in order to straighten them out. Water causes the grain to expand and allow the veneer to unravel and become straight.
You should work carefully with any veneer that curls up. Pulling it into shape requires patience to avoid damaging the flitch or causing it to break.
Step 5: Shape the Veneer
Use a linoleum knife or pair of heavy duty scissors to cut the flitches into square pieces. The strips, once flattened, can be cut to any size that you desire or used to create furniture panels and coverings.